A Slew Of Power Systems Features Are Being Sunsetted
July 17, 2023 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Big Blue has long since stopped selling Power8 machinery and has been winding down sales of Power9-based systems as its Power10 machines, which made their debut in late 2021 and early 2022, are ascending. So, it is natural that features for Power8 and Power9 machinery are being withdrawn. But even some features with the newer Power10 machines are also being withdrawn, in some cases because supplies are running out and in other cases because better features have been introduced.
You have to keep up with these things so you can get what you need before IBM stops selling whatever that might be. As you well know, prior generations of Power Systems machines stay in the field a long time, and so these withdrawals on Power7, Power7+, Power8, and Power9 machinery affect a very large number of customers. How large? Let me remind you.
We talked at length about the vintage of the hardware in the IBM i on Power Systems based back in February, based on the data from the annual Fortra IBM i Marketplace Survey report with quite a bit of mathemagical massaging from us. After running the raw data through our model, this is how we think the IBM i base has changed between early 2015 and early 2023, inclusive:
As you can see, Power8 machinery dominated the installed base, and only because Power7 and Power7+ gear is on the wane do we see it still rising. Some Power6 and Power6+ customers trapped at IBM i 6.1 releases are still moving to Power7 and Power7+, just like some customers stuck at IBM i 7.1 are moving to Power8 iron and a smaller number, we think, are moving to Power9 machinery. We don’t think there are many customers moving from Power6 through Power8 machines straight to Power10. That is a big leap, although it could be happening in conjunction with a move to the cloud in cases where customers control their own software or have kept their maintenance payments and therefore technology updates on third party packages up to date. As you can see, Power10 may be generating good revenues for Big Blue, but the installed base of machines is absolutely huge by comparison, so it will take time for it to rise to be even 20 percent of the base. And when it does, Power9 will be the dominant part of the system base for IBM i customers.
It is with all of this in mind that we contemplate three different feature withdrawal announcements from IBM that happened last week, and if you have one of the machines covered by announcements, at the very least you need to take a look at them and see if you might need some of the hardware that is being removed from the IBM product catalog either later this year or early next year.
Let’s start with the Power10 feature withdrawals. In announcement letter AD23-0470, a bunch of things are not going to be sold after January 12, 2024 and customers have to take delivery of them by February 12, 2024. The machines with feature withdrawals include the one-way Power S1014, the two-way Power S1022, Power 1022s, Power L1022, Power S1024, and Power L1024, the four-way Power E1050 (which doesn’t support IBM i much to our chagrin), the sixteen-way Power E1080. The removed features include a bunch of copper and optical cables, a whole bunch of tape and drive adapter cards, various disk and flash drives, and load source specification features for those storage units.
In announcement letter AD23-0479, IBM has a bunch of features for a bunch of Power9 systems that are being withdrawn at various times between August 11, 2023 and January 31, 2024. As before, customers have a month to take delivery of the parts after they order them up to the drop-dead date. (This is so IBM can recognize the revenue before the end of each quarter where the ending dates land.) Let’s rattle them off:
- On August 11, the 100-meter optical cables for 100 Gb/sec EDR InfiniBand adapters for the Power H922 and Power H924 machines – these are the two-way Power9 machines tuned up and discounted down to run the SAP HANA in-memory database – are out of the catalog.
- On October 20 of this year, a very large number of cables and cords, storage and network controllers, disk and flash drives, and other feature codes are being withdrawn for the Power S914, Power S922, Power L922, Power H922S, Power S924, and Power 924S machines. Some processor feature upgrades for these machines are also being withdrawn at this time.
- One January 12, 2024, a similar bunch of feature codes for the Power E950, including processor upgrades, get the boot.
That leaves announcement letter AD23-4080, also dated July 11 like the previous two. Let’s rattle these off and wonder why IBM didn’t just make one big announcement.
- Effective July 11, IBM withdrew the 256 GB DDR4 “Centaur” CDIMM memory features for the Power E980 system.
- On August 9, a whole bunch of features for the Power AC922 – this is the hybrid CPU-GPU node that is in the “Summit” supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the “Sierra” supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that are based on the Power9 generation – are getting cut.
- On August 11, a different set of 100-meter optical cables for 100 Gb/sec EDR InfiniBand adapters for the Power H922 and Power H924 machines are being cut.
- On October 20 of this year, the slew of features being withdrawn is from the Power S914, Power S922, Power H922, Power S924, PowerH924. We have neither the time nor the energy to collate these two announcements and see what is the same or what is different. If you have one of these machines, study the section from both announcements and see how you might be affected. Some feature upgrades are also affected.
- On January 12, 2024, the feature cuts hit the Power E980. Again, there isn’t enough time in the world to collate and cross-check these two announcements. Some feature upgrades are also affected here, too.
One last thing. Just because IBM is no longer selling particular systems or selling features for them does not mean you can’t get them. The secondhand market for Power Systems gear is still pretty vibrant, from IBM Global Asset Recovery Services as well as from various third parties. Inventories vary based on what machines are being taken out of the base, of course, but no part that might be sold ends up in a trash heap. IBM and independent dealers know this gear will be valuable at some point, given how long customers tend to hang onto Power Systems iron, and so they have warehouses full of it. If you need something, you can probably find it with the help of your IBM business partner – even if they really want to just sell you a new Power10 machine.
The Inevitable Wave Of Power9 Withdrawals Begins (Almost used the same title eleven months apart)